Patty Mills deserves to have his number retired by the San Antonio Spurs
Retiring a player’s jersey number is one of the greatest honors a team can award to a player. So far the San Antonio Spurs have only hung 10 jersey numbers in the rafters of the AT&T Center, it’s not something they do lightly. The bar for entry into this illustrious group is high, but there’s one man on the roster who is inching closer and closer to reaching it.
Patty Mills is a near life long Spur. He spent the first two years of his career with the Portland Trail Blazers but when we look back on his career that will be a footnote. Mills is a Spur through and through. He’s the longest-tenured player on the team, has helped the organization navigate difficult transitions, and remained a consistent and value contributor. His career is hopefully far from over but when he does call it quits the San Antonio Spurs should absolutely retire his number.
The argument for retiring Patty’s jersey number comes down to four things: his status as the longest-tenured member of the Spurs, and what he’s helped the team go through in that time, his contributions on the court, his contributions off the court and in his community, and his leadership and role as a mentor to the next generation of Spurs.
The San Antonio Spurs should retire Patty’s number after he retires
Since joining the Spurs in 2011 Mills has seen the franchise experience is the most heartbreaking moment in the 2013 Finals, capture the redeeming championship in 2014, close the book on the Big Three era, navigate the integration of LaMarcus Aldridge, the Kawhi Leonard trade saga, and bringing DeMar DeRozan into the fold.
Now the Spurs are on the edge of a rebuild. With their playoff streak on the edge of breaking we could see San Antonio go through a stage that many of us haven’t seen in our lifetimes. But we can rest easy knowing that Mills will continue to be a steady presence off the bench, just the way he’s been for nearly the past decade.
On the court, Mills is coming off of one of the best seasons of his career. Even as the Spurs struggled, fans could feel comfortable when Mills was on the floor. He bailed the team out of more than a few tight spots and was an x-factor when they needed him most.
He handed off some of his playmaking duties to other guards like Derrick White but took steps forward as a scorer, averaging a career-high 11.7 points per game on a near career-high 58.9 percent true shooting percentage. He was also one of the few consistent 3-point threats that the Spurs had on their roster.
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Another point for retiring Patty’s number is his status as one of the all-time great San Antonio Spurs 3-point shooters. He’s number two on the Spurs all-time list in 3-pointers made and is within striking distance of the number one spot held by Manu Ginobili.
He’s just 491 made three’s out of the number one spot. He’s been averaging north 140 made three’s per season over the last four years but even if we assumed that he makes just 140 3-pointers a year it should only theoretically take him three and a half more seasons to take over that top spot. He’s an unrestricted free agent in the summer of 2021 but Mills seems like the kind of seasoned veteran that the Spurs would pay a little extra to keep around. He’s earned it.
Patty’s impact doesn’t stay on the court, he’s a leader in the locker room and in his community as well. He’s a mentor to the young Spurs guards and has led important fundraising campaigns for victims of domestic violence as well as helping out in his native Australia. Through his selflessness on and off the court, he continues to prove that he’s the perfect embodiment of what it means to be a member of the San Antonio Spurs.
He’s one of the most beloved San Antonio Spurs, he’s a great player on the court, and he’s completely embraced San Antonio in the same way the fans have embraced him. Without a doubt, Patty Mills has earned the privilege of having his number retired by the San Antonio Spurs.